Philadelphia’s The Loved Ones are receiving much hype within the punk rock community for featuring members that have played with hardcore heavyweights Paint It Black and the influential punk rock act Kid Dynamite. However, the band’s debut full-length album, Keep Your Heart, strays from the aforementioned acts, as well as the bands on Fat Wreck Chords, the label that released the band’s album.The first few tracks have all the punches and hooks typical of a band on Fat Wreck Chords, a label owned by NOFX’s vocalist Fat Mike. The first four tracks, (“Suture Self,” “Breathe In,” “Jane” and “Over 50 Club”) are fast and raw, and feature the typical punk rock formula: a rapid snare drum beat, a few power chords and gruff vocals.
However, the album slows down after the first few tracks. On “Sickening,” Dave House sings over more mid-tempo drum beats and softer chords. Though the change of pace adds something different, the album loses some of the energy found on the opening songs.
The album picks up again with the track “Arsenic.” The catchy guitar riff that kicks off the song seduces the listener, and House’s vocals maintain the power found on the album’s beginning tracks.
The song “100K” follows “Arsenic.” The track originally appeared on the band’s five-song EP released on Jade Tree Records last year. The song’s pop-sensibility and quick chord changes are probably what landed the band a contract with Fat Wreck Chords, one of the biggest independent punk rock labels in the country.
The album concludes with the mid-tempo song “Player Hater Anthem,” a song that is about having energy and passion in music, which are feelings that are crucial for any punk rock scene to survive and thrive.
For those looking for another Kid Dynamite or Paint It Black, they will be disappointed; the Loved Ones do not have the political content that those others had. At their core, The Loved Ones are a decent rock’n’ roll band that sing about relationships, aging and music.
Overall, the album has some captivating tracks, like “Jane” and “Arsenic.” The energy and power of those songs will have audience members singing along and pumping their fists in the air, as the band currently tours with label mates and punk rock superstars NOFX and The Lawrence Arms. The album is decent for a debut, but next time around, the band may want to record some more fast-paced rockers to accompany the slower tracks so the listener stays hooked.